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Thursday, March 31, 2011

THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT - 3

A GUIDE TO UNIVERSAL DESIGN

Accessibility for people with disabilities is a civil rights issue.

Accessible parking spaces represent another feature of the built environment guaranteeing access to services vital to the everyday lives of people with disabilities.

Accessible parking ensures that people with disabilities can:

travel to and from their places of employment

fully participate in the civic process

have full access to educational facilities, public parks, airports, government facilities and cultural attractions.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT -- 2


A GUIDE TO UNIVERSAL DESIGN

The ADA is not a building code.

It’s a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, just like civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination against people on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, etc.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT


A GUIDE TO UNIVERSAL DESIGN

People with Disabilities and the Built Environment

Building a More Inclusive World

Editor's note: For the month of April, we will publish a presentation of The Americans with Disabilities Act and how it impacts universal design.

Monday, March 28, 2011

WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY? --6


WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY?

By Steve Wright

EcoBroker Vice President John K. Stovall was a featured presenter at the Vermont Association of Realtors (VAR) 2007 statewide convention, which focused on going Green.

Personally, sustainability has been a priority since the 70’s, said Robert D. Hill, executive vice president of the VAR. “When the Legislature spent the entire session last year on global warming and attempted to institute mandatory energy efficiency standards on all housing, it was a natural opportunity to make sure our members are conversant with the concepts and adequately prepared to respond to customers who are looking for Green real estate. We wanted to help our members understand that this is where the market is going and not just a `nerdy idea,’ so they should be professionally primed to provide assistance when their clients ask.”

To create more sustainability, VAR has also worked Smart Growth Vermont on a project to demonstrate that well-planned communities can fit the Vermont landscape. However, Hill said acceptance of the concept is moving slowly due to stringent permitting processes. Evening if some government codes are slow to adapt, he said the bottom line is Green is here to stay.

“Just as Realtors have been at the forefront of educating home buyers and sellers on the hazards and mitigations of lead paint, they can also be instrumental in showing clients how Green improvements can increase the value of their investment,” Hill said.

TOMORROW: Green Real Estate Education

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 27, 2011

WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY? --5


WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY?

By Steve Wright

John Beldock -- holder of a doctorate degree from the University of California with experience teaching courses in energy engineering, energy and environmental technologies, statistics, and pollution prevention – is President and CEO EcoBroker International.

Beldock calls EcoBroker “the first and only international provider of Green designation training that provides a unique energy and environmental curriculum to licensed real estate professionals, leading to the EcoBroker® designation.”

There are certified EcoBrokers in 42 states, four Canadian Provinces and the Caribbean. Based in Evergreen Colorado outside Denver, EcoBroker’s accredited coursework consists of three six-hour on-line classes on:

• Constructively addressing environmental issues such as radon, asbestos, lead, water, mold and indoor air quality. Reducing liabilities and saving deals by learning to work through environmental issues.

• Energy efficiency technologies, sustainable energy options and mortgage options that award up to $15,000 worth of energy efficiency improvements for a home at the closing. Green home certification programs, such as Built Green® and Energy Star® Qualified Homes.

• Energy and environmental training that can add value to transactions with consumers both Green-minded and not Green-aware. Identifying new markets where the EcoBroker Designation will have appeal and impact that generates more business.


John Beldock -- holder of a doctorate degree from the University of California with experience teaching courses in energy engineering, energy and environmental technologies, statistics, and pollution prevention – is President and CEO EcoBroker International.

Beldock calls EcoBroker “the first and only international provider of Green designation training that provides a unique energy and environmental curriculum to licensed real estate professionals, leading to the EcoBroker® designation.”

There are certified EcoBrokers in 42 states, four Canadian Provinces and the Caribbean. Based in Evergreen Colorado outside Denver, EcoBroker’s accredited coursework consists of three six-hour on-line classes on:

• Constructively addressing environmental issues such as radon, asbestos, lead, water, mold and indoor air quality. Reducing liabilities and saving deals by learning to work through environmental issues.

• Energy efficiency technologies, sustainable energy options and mortgage options that award up to $15,000 worth of energy efficiency improvements for a home at the closing. Green home certification programs, such as Built Green® and Energy Star® Qualified Homes.

• Energy and environmental training that can add value to transactions with consumers both Green-minded and not Green-aware. Identifying new markets where the EcoBroker Designation will have appeal and impact that generates more business.


John Beldock -- holder of a doctorate degree from the University of California with experience teaching courses in energy engineering, energy and environmental technologies, statistics, and pollution prevention – is President and CEO EcoBroker International.

Beldock calls EcoBroker “the first and only international provider of Green designation training that provides a unique energy and environmental curriculum to licensed real estate professionals, leading to the EcoBroker® designation.”

There are certified EcoBrokers in 42 states, four Canadian Provinces and the Caribbean. Based in Evergreen Colorado outside Denver, EcoBroker’s accredited coursework consists of three six-hour on-line classes on:

• Constructively addressing environmental issues such as radon, asbestos, lead, water, mold and indoor air quality. Reducing liabilities and saving deals by learning to work through environmental issues.

• Energy efficiency technologies, sustainable energy options and mortgage options that award up to $15,000 worth of energy efficiency improvements for a home at the closing. Green home certification programs, such as Built Green® and Energy Star® Qualified Homes.

• Energy and environmental training that can add value to transactions with consumers both Green-minded and not Green-aware. Identifying new markets where the EcoBroker Designation will have appeal and impact that generates more business.

TOMORROW: EcoBroker International

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 26, 2011

WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY? --4


WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY?

By Steve Wright

The Seattle King County Association of Realtors (SKCAR) created The Realtors Environmental Council (TREC) to a promote Green practices such as:

(5) Undertake the advancement of important environmental policies, and/or environmental projects, that other environmental organizations have failed to undertake.

Hokason urged other Realtor associations to create something similar to SKCAR’s The Realtors Environmental Council. He also strongly believes that association boards should work to add Green information to their area Multiple Listing Service.
The Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the largest full-service MLS in the Pacific Northwest that serves more than 2,000 companies with more than 26,000 sales associates, has added information on sustainability to its database.

Agents can highlight Green features for homes that meet third-party certifications for Built Green®, Energy Star® and LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.

There are checkboxes for identifying energy-efficient heating and cooling systems including solar and for renewable floor coverings such as bamboo or cork. In a listing’s details about the house lot, a Realtor can check a box denoting sustainable features such as drought-resistant landscaping.

SKCAR also is a big advocate of the EcoBroker certification that can be obtained through a highly-regarded on-line course created by the former director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Environmental Analysis Program.

TOMORROW: the Vermont Association of Realtors

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Friday, March 25, 2011

WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY? --2


WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY?

By Steve Wright

“Our association lobbies state and local officials for jobs-housing balance. Recognizing that one-half of all green house gas (GHG) comes from transportation, one of the best approaches to address climate change is to lobby for jobs-housing balance. This concept advocates for housing opportunities near employment centers.” Hokanson said of the necessity to combine Smart Growth with Green housing. “Jobs-housing balance helps prevent sprawl, provides housing opportunities for workers near their jobs, and greatly reduces the vehicle miles traveled and GHG.”

SKCAR conceived and created The Realtors Environmental Council (TREC), an organization pending non-profit status that Hokanson believes is the first of its kind in the Nation. In his words, TREC was created with the intent to:

(1) Improve the congruence between public perceptions and the fact that the Realtors are sensitive to, and supportive of, well-grounded and responsible environmental stewardship.

Many folks don't know that the Realtors are a founding member of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and for many, many, years have annually contributed thousands of dollars to the Coalition's efforts to secure environmental and recreation project funding for jurisdictions throughout Washington State.

The TREC is a natural fit with our strong support for schools, infrastructure and housing, which like a quality environment are all pre-requisites for quality of life.

TOMORROW: TREC GOALS 2 THROUGH 4


Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY? --3


WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY?

By Steve Wright

The Seattle King County Association of Realtors (SKCAR) created The Realtors Environmental Council (TREC) to a promote Green practices such as:

(2) Accomplish projects that provide on-the-ground benefits for the environment. The project at the Hylebos (a watershed conservation area) was the first such project to be undertaken by TREC. It was chosen because it is one of the outstanding environmental assets in the entire Pacific Northwest and because the Friends of the Hylebos, with whom we partnered on this project, have a superb reputation for their environmental remediation and enhancement efforts.

The Realtors would not be content to only talk about the environment and raise funds for environmental projects, as some environmental efforts have done. We worked with dirt under our fingernails, making a difference for the environment. As part of our local board’s centennial celebration, this fall TREC will work on the ground or provide environmental stewardship to improve a significant greenbelt or park within King County.

(3) Enhance Realtor understanding of environmental issues through education -- particularly as they may be related to regulation, conservation, enhancement and remediation that affect the sustainability, utilization and development of real property. This is being accomplished through state-approved clock-hour classes Realtors must complete in order to renew their real estate licenses.

(4) Develop and provide to Realtors brandable point-of-sale brochures members can download and use with clients and customers on "How To Be An Earth-Friendly Homeowner." This brochure may be downloaded from our web site.

TOMORROW: TREC INITIATIVE #5

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY?


WHAT ARE REALTOR ASSOCIATIONS DOING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY?

By Steve Wright

Not that long ago, if a buyer wanted a Realtor for search for a Green house, it could have meant only two things – the shade of paint on the walls or the amenity of a glassed in structure perfect for growing flowers and vegetables.

Now Green is spelled with a capital G and means environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient, healthy and sustainable.

And as more and more buyers are seeking homes with everything from better air quality and insulation to solar power and rain catch basins, a lack of knowledge about going Green can result in a shrinking client base and a lack of sale commission green.

To separate the junk science from best practices, a number of large regional Realtor Associations are creating Green councils, trainings, conferences, certification procedures and partnerships.

Consumer demand for sustainability also has created some nationally-recognized companies that create coursework and certification programs for Realtors.

“We have developed a brochure, Green Living: A Resource Guide for Residents of King County. The brochure may be downloaded from our website and our members are encouraged to provide a copy of the brochure to new homeowners,” said Russell Hokanson, CEO of the Seattle King County Association of Realtors (SKCAR). “The brochure provides valuable information and resources relating to energy efficiency inside and outside of homes, improving vehicle fuel economy, recycling, calculating carbon footprints, and other valuable Green tips.”

SKCAR partners with a local instructor to offer a classroom course – Green Cities & Housing. It also is collaborating with the Independent Brokers Association to offer a new course -- Selling Green Homes.

TOMORROW: The Realtors Environmental Council

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

GOING GREEN - 12


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

GREEN REAL ESTATE RESOURCES:

www.patternlanguage.com

www.placemakers.com

www.thewatersal.com

www.cbmove.com/candace.lightner

www.greendcrealty.com

www.greenkeyrealestate.com

www.interorealestate.com

www.TexasHorseAndHome.com

WWW.ECOBROKER.COM

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

GOING GREEN - 11


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

To delve deeply into holistic sustainability, Jumonville suggests architect Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language. The groundbreaking 1977 book, in its own words, deals with “the large-scale structure of the environment: the growth of town and country, the layout of roads and paths, the relationship between work and family, the formation of suitable public institutions for a neighborhood, the kinds of public space required to support these institutions.”

Jumonville, whose email includes a picture of herself with her horse, notes that sustainability reaches far beyond the urban core and suburbs.

“I'm working not only on urban issues but rural issues -- how to make your horse property more environmentally sustainable. For example, it's just as important to site the barn correctly on the property as it is the house. Rainwater harvesting for livestock watering is a no-brainer and using soil biology versus fertilizer/weedkiller is more sustainable long term,” she said. “I'm constantly looking for rebates and other benefits that the utility companies and city, state and federal government offer for clients interested in upgrading their new or existing home to more sustainable standards.”

TOMORROW: GREEN REAL ESTATE RESOURCES

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 20, 2011

GOING GREEN - 10


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

For Realtor Tricia Jumonville, a self described “old hippie,” sustainability has been woven into her life a far back as she can remember.

“An astute Realtor can always help a buyer or seller find affordable ways to add to the sustainability factor of more traditional construction. You can't change the way an existing building is placed on the lot, for example, but you can add rainwater harvesting systems, solar attributes, screening that helps with the energy demands for cooling landscaping to decrease energy usage and quite a few other affordable aftermarket tweaks that will increase sustainability of even traditional construction,” said Jumonville, who works for ERA Colonial Real Estate in rural Texas about a long hour’s drive out of progressive Austin.

“Clearly, energy auditors are going to be an important partner in the Realtor's life in future. As will lenders familiar with the energy-efficient loans that are available that make sustainability more affordable for the average person,” she added. “I'm currently looking for one of each locally to add to my team of home inspectors, mortgage lenders, contractors, and others to serve clients.”

TOMORROW: Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 19, 2011

GOING GREEN - 9


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

Janet Rosenberg, a Realtor with Intero Real Estate Services in Santa Cruz California, lists her EcoBroker certification right under her name on her emails – before the essential office, mobile and fax numbers.

“Realtors are in the perfect position to educate people, and entire communities for that matter, in ways to make homes more energy efficient,” she said. “The reason for this is that in our profession we are talking to home buyers and home sellers every day, and we're also touring homes regularly. With our background as Certified EcoBrokers, Intero Real Estate can offer not only suggestions on areas to improve a home's efficiency, but ways to reduce utility bills.”

Rosenberg implemented into her two offices is by forming a Green business network called Green Performance Network (GPN). The network includes appraisers, builders, inspectors, landscapers, material suppliers, lenders and other professionals who have gone Green.

“I found that I wanted to refer my clients to local businesses that offered Green products and services, and I needed to know who those folks were,” she said. By forming the GPN, I now offer all members a free half page ad in our directory, which is distributed to our clients and in businesses throughout town. This makes my company very visible in the "Green" front, and it builds a referral network back to us.”

Every six weeks, Rosenberg hosts public events that invite community members to introduce themselves and tell about their product or service. Everyone passes out business cards.

“Obviously, I hope that when people are making a decision about Real Estate, they will come to Intero Real Estate Services for help,” she said. “Additionally, we teach Intero Community Classes in my office -- taught by EcoBrokers and are open to the public. The classes are topics such as `Sustainable Building Showcase’ and `Green Living Seminar.’”

TOMORROW: Realtor Tricia Jumonville

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Friday, March 18, 2011

GOING GREEN - 8


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

Bartle’s brokerage recruits highly educated people from a diverse background and makes sure all of them get EcoBroker training. EcoBroker is an on-line training course that allows Realtors to attain Green certification.

“We’re certified Green building specialists -- we want our agents to be Greenest of the Green. We’re in classes learning from architects and builders,’’ he said. ”We’d rather sell a not Green home to a Green buyer and teach them to Green it. We look at Green as being equivalent to high end property.”

“Realtors have great influence on the spending patterns of their clients. The Greening of houses has only been going on a few years. To introduce best practices to our buyers, we need more data,” said Bartle, whose firm gives buyers a certificate for a home energy efficiency and air quality analysis worth $250.

Bartle, whose mission is to make San Francisco the most sustainable city in the world, will soon open branches of Green Key Real Estate in other parts of Northern California plus Seattle, Portland and Boulder, Colorado. The ultimate goal is to sell Green Key franchises to like-minded brokers across the United States.

TOMORROW: Janet Rosenberg, a Realtor with Intero Real Estate Services in Santa Cruz California

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 17, 2011

GOING GREEN - 7


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

San Francisco, known as a hotbed of progressive thinking and acting for nearly a half century, actually has a fairly small inventory of Green houses.

Realtor Chris Bartle, president and broker of Green Key Real Estate, aims to boost the number of Green homes in the City by the Bay as well as nationwide.

“We’re a mission-driven company. Of course we’re about selling houses and making money, but we’re also about also increasing the inventory of Green homes,” he said.

Bartle’s firm works with Build It Green, a California nonprofit, to promote Green building and Green remodeling. He also notes that the California Association of Realtors has a Green Task Force working to create Green ratings for a statewide Multiple Listing Service.

“In an old home, if the client is concerned about energy efficiency, the solution includes double paned windows and energy efficient appliances. That’s not a hard sell – you make a $10K investment now and make it back in five or 10 years,” Bartle explained.

Bartle said sustainable housing goes far beyond a capital investment in energy efficiency.

“People are thinking about indoor air quality, people are thinking of their families,” he said. “A lot of building materials, finish materials, paints, varnish, sealers and cabinetry with particle board held together with formaldehyde -- have toxic elements. That’s not just a horrible paint smell, it’s a chemical that isn’t good for you. We get calls from buyers who have an allergy to formaldehyde or a certain pesticide. Now there are a lot of new products that don’t give off any harmful emissions.”

TOMORROW: EcoBroker

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

GOING GREEN - 6


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

“Even though utility bills are a reflection of lifestyle use, I think it would ultimately be useful for consumers/home buyers to be able to review utility bills before placing an offer on a home," Realtor Michael Keifer said. It is very important for consumers, when working with a Realtor, to ask about such matters and request copies. As you can imagine, when that first month rolls around and the gas/electric /water bills start rolling in -- you begin to realize that owning a home is so much more than PITI.”

To reduce automobile dependency, Green DC Realty gives its clients a Zipcar membership and mileage voucher. Zipcar members can rent automobiles by the day or hour from several urban locations. Zipcar supplements public transit with individual automobiles available for a fraction of the cost of car payment, maintenance, insurance and fuel.

“I look at efficiency as being more than just the home. It’s about evaluating the consumer’s current life and seeing where cost effective, efficient improvements can be made,” he said. In the Metro area, we have ride sharing firms that take the hassle out of owning a car. I continually look at ways of providing home ownership through the removal of inefficient expenditures and proving incentives to the consumer through drive time vouchers as part of the purchase.”

TOMORROW: Realtor Chris Bartle, president and broker of Green Key Real Estate

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

GOING GREEN - 5


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

Realtor Michael Kiefer -- founder and principal of Green DC Realty, an affiliate of Keller Williams Realty Capital Properties in the Washington D.C.-Maryland area -- said sustainability requires buyers to look at a bigger picture.

“I believe we are in an era when we will see oil rise to $200 a barrel in the near future,” he observed. “I think part of the problem I am seeing is that the consumer is not entirely sure where to start. Purchasing a home for many is a challenging matter filled with lots of anxiety and since for many it is their first home, they have not been trained to think about what I refer to the external costs of owning a home.”

Kiefer said the shrinking energy supply and rising cost doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom – it can be an opportunity for Realtors to sharpen their focus and add to the crucial information they supply to their clients.

“Most consumers are qualified based upon credit and are given a picture of PITI as part of owning. But from my experience, I know of very few Realtors that ever mention the costs of utilities or home maintenance,” he said.

TOMORROW: Car Sharing

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Monday, March 14, 2011

GOING GREEN - 4


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

Lightner said when going Green, it’s best to speak in plain English.

“We’re doing Realtor roundtable discussions around the country and most Realtors are somewhat aware of the issue of Green or energy efficiency and they are interested in it, but they don’t know what to do next,” she said. “We asked `how many of your clients are interested in energy efficiency?’ and no hands go up. Then we ask `how many are concerned about utility bills?’ and the hands go up -- the light bulb goes off.”

Instead of talking about sustainability and hard science, Lightner suggests Realtors talk to consumers about making homes more comfortable, cost effective, durable, healthy and safer.

”Green sounds too far out there,” she said. “Energy efficient is more interesting, more something you can touch.”

TOMORROW: Car sharing

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 13, 2011

GOING GREEN - 3


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

Alexandria Virginia Realtor Candace Lightner, a world-renown leader who responded to a family tragedy by founding Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is now at the forefront of helping buyers become more energy efficient.

The sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage gives each buyer a $350 home energy audit.

“I was trying to think of ways that would set me apart from other Realtors,
she said. “I discussed the concept of energy audit and told my buyers if they waited till the close of escrow, it would be my gift to them.”

The energy audit takes about two and a half hours and focuses on identifying major energy leaks in a house. Technicians measure everything from leaky doors and windows to whether insulation has been properly installed in attics, basements and crawl spaces.

The homeowner receives a report that identifies problems and tells them how to fix them.

“Most people here are doing remodeling,” said Lightner, who worked on an efficiency project with the U.S. Department of Energy and started addressing problems in her own 60-plus-year-old house in old Alexandria. “If you plan on being in the home a number of years and if you’re already remodeling, you can do a retrofit to boost energy efficiency.”

TOMORROW: More Green Insights from the Founder of MADD

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 12, 2011

GOING GREEN - 2


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

Norris believes that sustainability includes energy efficiency within a house’s walls plus a walkable, traditional neighborhood development.

“To me, sustainability means doing things that make sense over the
long run,” he said. “In 1998, I first heard of the Indian principle
that we owe a duty to ensure the survival of the seventh generation
beyond us. It was wise a long time ago, and it still is today.”

Norris said even if gasoline spirals above five dollars a gallon and the price of heating/cooling energy continues to skyrocket, homeowners won’t go broke – they’ll simply learn to adapt.

“Spray foam insulation, energy-efficient windows, solar energy, tankless water
heaters, energy-star appliances and high efficiency HVAC systems are
available to owners of new homes as well as old homes. The combination of these technologies permits us to create zero energy homes,” he said. “The big change will not come from self-interest in the seventh generation, it will come from an economic self interest.”

TOMORROW: Candace Lightner

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Friday, March 11, 2011

GOING GREEN


GOING GREEN
What are REALTORS Doing about Sustainability?


By Steve Wright

Going Green.

Saving money.

Feeling comfortable.

Replacing leaky single-pane windows.

Protecting the environment far into the future.

With soaring energy prices and shrinking pocketbooks abounding, sustainability can have a different meaning to every different person – ranging from the simplistic to the transcendental.

Whether sustainability means checking for energy leaks around that craggy old front door, or saving the planet far into the next centuries, Realtors across the nation are taking major steps toward helping their clients to go Green.

Realtor Nathan Norris -- formerly director of marketing and design for The Waters, a New Urbanist community on the fringe of Montgomery Alabama -- believes in an holistic approach to sustainability.

“In our development, we regularly sell people on the value of high-efficiency windows, spray foam insulation, metal roofs and tankless water heaters,” said Norris, now Director of Implementation Advisory at PlaceMakers.
“High-efficiency HVAC systems have been harder (to sell) – nonetheless, 20 percent of our first 100 homes had geo-thermal heating and cooling.”

“Essentially, our clientele look at the long-term ramifications of their decisions. We did an energy audit on the first two years of utility bills and we used the conclusions drawn from that analysis to educate prospective buyers on the items they should include in their homes.”

TOMORROW: Nathan Norris

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS - 10


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


By Steve Wright

Internet Resources

Tryon Farm www.tryonfarm.com

LandChoices www.landchoices.com

Randall Arendt www.greenerprospects.com

Town of Cary www.townofcary.org

Siepmann Realty www.siepmannrealty.com

Sugar Creek Preserve www.sugarcreekpreserve.com

Keefe Real Estate www.keeferealestate.com

Red Wing Land Company www.redwingland.com

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS - 9


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


By Steve Wright

SOME BENEFITS OF CONSERVATION DESIGN
(adapted from the writings of Randall Arendt)


1. Greater flexibility in lot sizes allows developers to create more compact lots. Conservation design can be used are serviced by municipal water/sewer, where lots are typically reduced from 20,000 square feet 12,000 square feet. Compact lots are a benefit to empty-nesters who wish to minimize their routine outdoor maintenance work (mowing lawns, raking leaves, etc.). It also enables developers to take far greater advantage of special places on the property (such as knolls offering views of ponds, meadows, etc.) by siting a larger number of narrower lots there than would ordinarily be possible.

2. The ability to divide and sell parts of the protected open space as "conservancy lots" enables developers to tap into the higher-end Country-Property market, boosting profit margin and also adding value to all lots in their vicinity.

3. Reduced site grading costs are another "hidden incentive." This enables large tree preservation, which retains the value that such trees add to the neighborhood.

4. Reduced street costs are sometimes another benefit, via wider street layouts permitting shorter streets.

5. Greater attractiveness, provided by the open space, is another benefit having direct economic value. Conservation lots sell for a higher price compared to house lots without open space, such as those in conventional subdivisions.

6. Faster absorption rates are another economic advantage created when significant amounts of open space are preserved. Conservation lots sell out faster when placed on the market.

TOMORROW: Conservation Subdivision resources

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS - 8


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


By Steve Wright

Conservation Subdivisions don’t work everywhere. Dense urban areas or regions boxed in by oceans, mountains or other extreme boundaries -- such as Florida’s Everglades – simply do not have the large tracts of land required.

While Conservation Subdivisions offer prices in the mid-range, rarely are they good sites for affordable housing because they are located far from urban job centers and their amenities. Their relatively low densities compared to the central city densities make it difficult to offer low cost housing that requires many units on land acquired as cheaply as possible.

Keefe said there are challenges to luring even people that are in the market for developments that conserve last tracks of land.

“Conservation Subdivisions can be difficult to sell in the early stages. Prairie restorations look terrible for the first two years while the grasses are being established,” he said. “The construction traffic and excavation work takes away from the peaceful natural setting. Like any new subdivision it’s hard to visualize how the homes will relate to each other before construction begins. Realtors have to be very good at painting a picture of the completed project and selling the lifestyle vision to the prospective buyers.”

Tryon developer Eve Noonan said resales are strong in her Michigan City, Indiana Conservation Subdivision, so homeowners benefit by buying a site surrounded by preserved land and developers benefit by saving site grading and infrastructure costs.

“I think in lots of ways, we have found out financially that this kind of development can be very, very successful,” she said. “That is good news not just for everybody’s pocketbooks but also good news for Mother Nature.”

TOMORROW: Benefits of Conservation Subdivision design

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Monday, March 7, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS - 7


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


By Steve Wright

Many successful developers are converts to Conservation Subdivisions. Waukesha, Wisconsin-based Siepmann Realty Corporation has been creating communities that conserve land for more than 40 of its 62 years in business.

When a visitor clicks on Siepmann’s internet homepage, a spinning counter comes to rest on the figure 1,566 – the number of acres of open space preserved in the developer’s conservation communities.

Sugar Creek Preserve, in southeastern Wisconsin, is a Conservation Subdivision of 52 homesites situated on 260 pristine acres in Walworth County’s Sugar Creek Valley. Its creators are development consultant Siepmann Realty, landowner Keefe Real Estate, developer Red Wing Land Company and land planner Greener Prospects – Arendt’s company.

More than 170 acres are permanently preserved open space marked by restored prairie, hardwood forests, a stream, a lake and 4.5 miles of walking trails. Lot sizes are large, starting at just more than one acre selling for $110,000 and ranging up to four acres, priced at $300,000.


“Realtors selling Conservation Subdivision homesites must sell the community and environment first, the specific lot second. It is important to frame the lot purchase differently than a regular lot and block subdivision. At Sugar Creek Preserve we tell buyers that they aren’t buying one acre lots, they are buying a 176 acre lot, of which they have one acre to build on,” said Rob Keefe of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin-based Keefe Real Estate.

TOMORROW: Conservation Subdivision challenges

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 6, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS - 6


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


By Steve Wright

In North Carolina’s prized and growing Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill research triangle area, the Town of Cary has earned awards for its controlled growth including Conservation Subdivisions.

“We adopted an ordinance that requires that Conservation Subdivisions be done in the area that touches our watershed,” said Town of Cary Senior Planner Don Belk. “This involves about 1,500 acres in our western planning jurisdiction where there are very poor soils in a very rural area, but municipal utilities are now available so it also is the hottest development area in the region.”

Previously, the 1,500 acres were zoned for minimum one-acre lots. Now, the area is allowed to have up to 2.5 units per acre, but only if housing is clustered and a significant amount of preserved open space is created as part of the development.

“We have a representative of Toll Brothers -- one of the biggest homebuilding companies in the nation -- who is actually going to the land owners and encouraging them to dedicate the conservation land up front, before they sell,” Belk said. “They take advantage of the state’s conservation tax credit program for a big tax break, then they get the proceeds from the sale of the remaining developable land.”

TOMORROW: Sugar Creek Preserve

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 5, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS - 5


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


By Steve Wright

Randall Arendt, a member of LandChoices’ Advisory Group, is one of the nation's foremost authorities on Conservation Subdivision design – one might even call him the father of the movement to bring development to a plot of land while perpetually preserving at least half of its rural/agricultural nature.

“One developer in Texas who hired me to redesign his 60-acre subdivision told me that his site grading costs plummeted from $300,000 to $50,000 as a result of my re-design,“ Arendt said via email interview while overseas.

“In Tennessee, my re-design saved one developer approximately $212,000 in street construction costs, while at the same time introducing significantly more quality open space into the layout. Another design is credited by an Indiana developer as having added $20,000 to $25,000 of value to each of his 40 lots.”

Arendt, a landscape planner, site designer and author of more than 20 smart land use publications, has worked for clients in 21 states – from Florida to Texas to the South and the Midwest, where Conservation Design has become a very popular way of accommodating housing growth while conserving rolling farm land and crucial wetlands.


TOMORROW: Town of Cary

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Friday, March 4, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS - 4


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


By Steve Wright

Suburban Detroit resident Kirt Manacke is so convinced that Conservation Subdivisions are the antidote to America’s unwavering consumption of rural land for suburban sprawl, that he created LandChoices.

The non-profit organization strives to inform stakeholders about land protection options “that are sensible and beneficial for both land developers and landowners.”

Manacke asserts that in addition to protecting rural lands for crop production, livestock grazing or just beautiful greenspace, Conservation Subdivisions have a track record of success for landowners, developers, townships and homebuyers.

”Contrary to popular belief, conservationists and developers make a very profitable team, reducing costs while increasing the desirability and market value of new developments.

Few landowners, citizens and planning commissioners realize such options exist,” said Manacke, echoing the words of his press release about his on-line clearing house of conservation information.

TOMORROW: Randall Arendt

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Thursday, March 3, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS - 3


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


By Steve Wright

“We build in stages, starting in front of the parcel and working our way back, organically controlled by the land. This means we don’t have big up front prices and don’t have to sell houses quick, quick, quick in order to get out from under the financing,” Eve Noonan said of the advantages of Conservation Subdivisions to developers’ bottom lines. “We’ve also discovered our square foot price, because we build so incredibly well, sells much higher per square foot than conventional or traditional building.”

Noonan said the biggest hurdle for a would-be Conservation Subdivision developer is an outdated, conventional set of city or county regulations that stipulate minimum lot sizes, minimum road widths and utility requirements that could prevent the goal of preserving land while clustering houses.

“By doing these clustered settlements, we don’t have to do the infrastructure for the whole 170 acres, which saves money,’’ Eve Noonan said. We had to get special permission to build our roads more narrow than code allowed. With narrow roads, drivers slow down, kids feel safe riding bikes and the fire trucks can always turn around using part of the farmland off the paved surface. We also had to fight the city to be allowed to do Constructed Wastewater Wetlands sewage treatment on site, instead of running miles of city sanitary lines.”

TOMORROW: LAND CHOICES
Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS - 2


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


Tryon Farm is the brainchild of another Chicago couple, Eve Noonan and her husband Ed of Chicago Associates Planners & Architects. They had long-enjoyed a second home on the beach in Michigan City.

When they decided to purchase the nearby Tryon Family farmstead, a picturesque piece of Indiana dairy farmland held by the same family from back to the Civil War, the Noonans focused on preserving more than 70 percent of the land.

They knew the site, with its restored prairie and 150-year-old beech trees, would be attractive as a second home to Chicagoland city dwellers. But with the South Shore passenger rail -- one of the nation’s oldest interurban lines -- just five minutes away, they knew their rural residential development would still feature transit connectivity to the big city.

“If we hadn’t developed this way, the property would have been all commercial – totally flattened. With a Conservation Subdivision, we were able to preserve a 40-foot dune. Our dream was to build something like this.”

Homes in Tryon, clustered in little pockets of land, range in price from the high $100,000s to the mid $400,000s. The 120-acre preserve is held by a non-profit foundation that uses the old barn and residential farm animals to present educational workshops. The non-profit guarantees the 120 acres will never be developed and it saves homeowners from paying taxes on what would have been valued as a 120-acre common area.

TOMORROW: CLUSTERED SETTLEMENTS

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS


CONSERVATION SUBDIVISIONS
GOOD FOR THE LAND, GOOD FOR THE POCKETBOOK


By Steve Wright

Kathy Dennis loves walking, even in the depth of the harsh Great Lakes winter, from her house to her detached garage.

She loves her subdivision’s natural trails, its close-knit diverse community, its bird walks, its acres of preserved dunes, meadows, woods, pastures and ponds.

Dennis grew up a city girl in Milwaukee. Her husband Karl grew up on Chicago’s very urban South Side and the couple loved vertical city living in a Chicago condominium on Lake Michigan. The odds that the recently retired couple would leave the intensity of the city for a rural development 60 miles from the Windy City would seem long.

But the Dennises live in Tryon Farm, a master-planned Conservation Subdivision that has committed to preserving 120 of its 150 acres as pristine, ecologically diverse rural land. Conservation Subdivisions seek to preserve farmland and open space – instead of leveling, sectioning off, completely bisecting with roads and otherwise converting hills, wetlands, woods and other natural areas into a built-out conventional subdivision.

“It’s the little things; you really know your neighbors,” Kathy Dennis said of Tryon, located very near Lake Michigan in Michigan City, Indiana. “We have nearly 60 households and we know everyone’s name. So many people in condos or conventional subdivisions come home, shut the door and never go out except for work and shopping. Here, you meet your neighbors, you have social gatherings, you use the hiking trails together.”

The Dennis family first bought a little 600-square-foot cabin in Tryon as a weekend getaway. After a few years of falling in love with the conserved land and the fabulous architecture that blends contemporary design with structures that are in complete harmony with the natural surroundings, they purchased a 2,000-square-foot permanent home.

“My husband was a very urban person, thought he’d never live in the country. He came out here because of me and fell in love with it,’’ Kathy Dennis said. “We traveled internationally, we could have picked any spot we wanted to in the world, but we retired and settled here because this felt like home.”

TOMORROW: TRYON FARM

Wright frequently writes about smart growth and sustainable communities. He and his wife live in a restored historic home in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com